3 Still Standing (DIR. Robert Campos, Donna LoCicero)
By: Trevor Jeffery
What do you call three comics who keep doing stand-up instead of landing a sitcom role? “Working”.
3 Still Standing looks into the lives of three comedians who never took their career beyond the microphone. In their early days, political satirist Will Durst, funny everyman Johnny Steele and self deprecating Larry “Bubbles” Brown were part of the 1980s San Francisco comedy boom that launched careers for the likes of Dana Carvey, Rob Schneider and Robin Williams. Instead of transitioning into television like their now-famous peers, these three stayed on the stage to tell their jokes.
What 3 Still Standing does well is provide substance. It’s got characters, it’s got heart, and it will make you laugh. It opens dialogue on issues these guys face in their industry: fame and wage gap, the damage television caused to stand-up, and the sad life comedians sometimes lead (with extra “oomph” due to a sprinkling of interviews with Robin Williams).
Ultimately 3 Still Standing presents itself on the same level as its subject: it’s a documentary that’s good at being a documentary. It doesn’t take the form to new places, and it clearly doesn’t want to. It just wants to be a good documentary about stand-up comedians who just want to be good stand-up comedians.
Catch 3 Still Standing at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:
Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday, April 30 at 9:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, May 2 at 1:00 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre
Deep Web (DIR. Alex Winter)
By: Addison Wylie
Actor-turn-documentarian Alex Winter is doing wonderful things with the genre. He tracked an origin of online piracy with his sensational doc debut Downloaded, and now he overturns the War on Drugs in a digital age with Deep Web.
The content in Deep Web is more dense than the facts in Downloaded, which benefited from a nostalgic connection with the audience. Impressively, Winter’s latest film stays up-to-date with the trial of Ross Ulbricht and the constant chase by the law to seize shadowy sites found on the “dark web”. The documentarian is able to keep the material accessible with great help from narrator Keanu Reeves. However, it’s impossible not to think Winter was trying to make an alternative, more cinematic connection between Reeves and the inner workings of a cyber world – if you catch my drift.
Deep Web masterfully peels each layer off its subject. What starts as a morality case involving drug purchasing on the online black market Silk Road and its administrators following an amendment abiding manifesto spirals into a debate between what laws authorities are able to enforce when cracking down on online suspicions.
Once our minds have been opened by Winter’s fantastic doc, a resonant message is loud and clear by the end of Deep Web. A relevant statement that is unfair and ongoing, yet we sense a hopeful spirit fighting through.
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie